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"Despite his misgivings about what Google cast aside to make Google+ a reality, Whittaker (Microsoft-turned-Google engineer James Whittaker -- now once again a Microsoft employee)thinks that the social network was worth a shot. If it had worked -- if Google had dramatically changed the social Web for the better -- it would have been a heroic gamble.

But it didn't. It's too early to write Google+ off, but the site is developing a reputation as a ghost town. Google says 90 million people have signed up, but analysts and anecdotal evidence show that fairly few have turned into heavy users.

'Google was the rich kid who, after having discovered he wasn't invited to the party, built his own party in retaliation," Whittaker wrote. "The fact that no one came to Google's party became the elephant in the room.' "

What do you think?  Is Google+ a ghost town?

Tags: Facebook, Google+, Media, Social

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Google+ is actually a very powerful tool for organic and LOCAL search optimization.  I was speaking with a member of the Google team that will be speaking at the 2012 Automotive Boot Camp and she outlined to me Google's focus on Social, Local, and Mobile (So-Lo-Mo) strategies.  

At the Boot Camp she will share Google's strategy with attendees.  Snooze you lose on this one!

When you look at the power of Google+ for Local and Social influence, in Google's own SERP results, it would be hard not to see how this can be leveraged by car dealers.  

So, I'm a fan and will be giving a workshop at Boot Camp on how Google+ should be considered and prioritized in a dealers online marketing plan.  There are significant opportunities for those that leverage Google+. 

JD Rucker will also be delivering a groundbreaking report on what "Automotive SEO" looks like today and how Google+ factors into the equation.  Keep in mind that regardless if some people regard Google+ as a "ghost town", if Google respects and prioritizes content in LOCAL markets, it's a tool worth including in a dealer's marketing strategy. 

Brian, thank you for responding.  I have no doubt that Google+ is good for SEO.  So is YouTube and any other properties of Google, for obvious reasons.  Will I use it?  Absolutely, because Google is the king of search.  How can you ignore that?

Is Google+ a legitimate Social Media site?  I doubt it.  I agree with Whittaker that it's the rich boy who wasn't invited to the party and decided to make his own party.  But nobody's playing.  They all signed up to be in good graces with the rich boy (SEO), but they're not interested in playing.

You and JD talk SEO and I respect that.  Absolutely!  But if you're talking Social... go to the new kid in town, Pinterest.  That's where the next "THING" is.  Watch it bloom!  And it holds more promise for retail businesses than Facebook and Twitter combined.  IMHO.

BTW, wish I could be at your Boot Camp.  I'm sure it will be awesome and I would love to meet the Google team!


What is preventing you from attending Boot Camp?

Thank you for the kind words, Brian. I'm super excited about this Boot Camp. I know it will be the most important educational event of the year in automotive.

We have to look at Google+ through the proper lens to really understand what they have accomplished and what the future holds. It is less than a year old. At the same point in Facebook's development, they hadn't even opened to the public.

The question isn't whether or not they are a ghost town now. It's about when they will turn on the afterburners to make up for starting 7 years late. Unlike standard fighter jets, Google has a nearly-limitless amount of jetfuel (money) through which to keep the afterburners hot.

They're waiting for a trigger. That trigger will likely be the integration of G+ into everything, paticularly as a replacement for Places.

Today, users spend an average of 4 minutes per month on G+ compared to over 400 minutes per month on Facebook. As Tom mentioned, Pinterest is up there with Tumblr at around 50 minutes per month per user if I recall, but Google isn't looking to take up our time. They want the visits. they want the clicks. They want to power. For Facebook, time is power. For Google, it's a different scale. Clicks are their power, and whoever controls the clicks gets the revenue.

I'm not countering Tom's argument as much as pointing out that we have only seen the very early stages of Google+. Today, it is a ghost town. Tomorrow, it may still be a ghost town. There's nothing wrong with that from Google's perspective as long as they control the clicks. With Google+ replacing Google Places, that's exactly what they'll do.

JD, Wow you have a lot of enthusiasm and you're convincing too.  I DO understand where you're coming from. 

I never said that Google+ wasn't good for SEO. But as David Johnson seemed to agree with me on, it's not doing well with Social.  That's what makes it seem like a ghost town.  And keep in mind, Google+ is most successful with professionals like you and Brian and Ralph.  But does that sell cars?  Does that build relationships between dealers and their customers?

My question is purely social.  Can you (the dealer) interact with your customers on Google+?  I can't predict what Google will do in the future to improve on that, but as of now, I don't see it.  As a representative of a dealer, I have to go where the action is for the dealer.

SEO is more technical.  I concede to you the power of Google.  Why not?  I use it too.

That Google+'s only real value, today, is for SEO is more than a little ironic. Were it NOT a Google property, Google would consider its use as Webspam. Since it is a Google property, they look they other way.

Ed, LOL! Isn't it ironic?

Brian, I answered you privately on that one.  I hope you understand. :-)

Speaking from personal experience, I post a LOT on my Google+ profile, as well as on my Facebook and LinkedIn profiles, and I am in many people's Google+ Circles, yet I consistently get a lot more engagement out of Facebook and LinkedIn than I do from Google+... However, with that said, I like many of the features of Google+ and of course, there is the SEO impact that Brian points out.  The other big "Canary in the Coal Mine" for me is when people complain to me about something I posted, where did they see that content? I do get a lot of complaints from people that normally ignore me, but see something I post on Google+ and feel compelled to call or email me with their gripes because they disagree with something... That tells me that Google+ may have more reach and more impact than the lack of direct, inside Google+ engagement would indicate.

Actually, I go on mostly to see what my son and his family are up to, because he posts a lot to Google+.  Other than that, it seems to lack the engagement that you see on Facebook. Obviously, Google can't be ignored, but I wonder if there is enough room at the top for both Facebook and Google+.  Perhaps people don't feel they have the time for both.

I'm not a big Google+ fan for social, but I totally agree with Brian for the SEO aspects of it and that alone is reason to keep using it.


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